Credit: UN - Photo: 2018

Kazakhstan Supports Proposals Discussed by UN Disarmament Commission

By J Nastranis

UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – Amid global anxieties about nuclear peril, Kazakhstan has joined representatives of several countries around the world in calling on the international community to work together through inclusive dialogue that takes into account the views of other States.

The general debate in the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) on April 2, 2018 also heard delegates expressing frustration over the lack of progress in implementing disarmament obligations by nuclear-weapon States and calling on them to reduce or eliminate their arsenals, while highlighting the three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Other delegates expressed concern at the threat of an arms race in outer space and called for interim measures as a precursor to a legally binding instrument.

Reiterating the need for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and confidence-building measures, Ambassador Kairat Umarov, the Central Asian republic’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, regretted to note the widening gap between States with and without nuclear weapons.

“The divide,” he said, “had led to a loss of trust, more disputes and a new arms race, while the world remained poised on the brink of a new cold war. Voicing concern over the erosion of progress on mutual arsenal reductions, he called for increased confidence‑building measures.”

Umarov faulted scant progress in the past two decades in implementing Article 6 of the NPT, which requires that “each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

This, in return, had paved the way to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, “a significant signal that the overwhelming majority of the world did not want nuclear threats.” While the instrument’s adoption had marked a first step, the Kazakh Permanent Representative to the UN said, next would be for nuclear weapon States and their allies to join it.

Voicing concern over the erosion of progress on mutual arsenal reductions by the United States and the Russian Federation, he called for increased confidence-building measures. It was equally important to develop and adopt a legally binding international instrument on the prohibition of the use of scientific discoveries to create new types of weapons of mass destruction, Umarov said.

The need for confidence-building measures had been emphasized by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the high level briefing of the Security Council on January 18, 2018, convened by Kazakhstan in its capacity as the Council President for the month of January.

He said the confidence-building measures had proven their efficiency throughout history. For example, they helped prevent the mass destruction in the second half of the 20th century, when humanity was on the verge of a new, large-scale war.

“To save subsequent generations from the scourge of war,” as the UN Charter vows, “is our common goal,” he said, adding: “Kazakhstan has proven its commitment to the goal by voluntary nuclear disarmament, which has been highly appraised by the world.”

The Kazakh President impressed upon the international community to avail of the modern scientific achievements, and strengthen the control of arms race. “I believe that confidence-building measures are also needed in forging common approaches to prevention of militarisation of outer space,” he stressed, adding that this could be a theme for a separate round of discussion.

He underlined, however, that these initiatives and the issue of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction depend on mutual understanding and trust between nuclear powers as well as between all the other nations of the world.

“The global community is a single body, strong in its diversity and pluralism that can survive and strive when there is balance and harmony among nations and peoples living on this planet,” Nazarbayev said, praising also the role and the historic mission of the Security Council.

Speakers in the general debate in the UN Disarmament Commission shared some of these thoughts. Thomas Markram, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), speaking on behalf of the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said there had been some recent signs of progress that pointed to where the Disarmament Commission, a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, could make a unique and constructive contribution.

Makram welcomed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s commitment to denuclearization following recent talks in China. He expressed the hope that such developments would be the start of a longer process of sincere dialogue leading to sustainable peace.

In addition, the Russian Federation and the United States had successfully reduced their strategic nuclear forces to levels required by the Treaty between the U.S. and Russia on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).

Measures for disarmament and arms control were more vital than ever before, he said, given that global anxieties about nuclear weapons were higher than at any time since the Cold War. In that context, he pointed out important signs of new life in United Nations disarmament bodies, particularly the Conference on Disarmament’s decision to establish subsidiary bodies, which would ultimately be judged by whether or not it would lead to the resumption of negotiations. 

For its part, the Commission had been able to consolidate its success in 2017 by starting a new cycle with the early adoption of its agenda, including the first new topic in 18 years.

Yet, difficulties and divisions persisted on substantive nuclear disarmament matters, he added. As a universal body with a mandate to make every effort to reach consensus, the Commission could only hope to realize progress if it avoided relitigating outcomes from other processes and reopening irreconcilable disputes. 

A starting point for deliberations could focus on the most recent consensus — the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which had been endorsed by nearly all States. Recalling instances of difficult disarmament negotiations, the pursuit of collateral arms control measures had helped to build confidence, ease tensions and create an environment that favoured progress.

In the nuclear field, such measures were primarily developed as a means for halting and reversing the arms race. Discussion on broader matters affecting strategic security could help to unlock the current stalemate and prevent the emergence of a new arms race.

The goal of preserving outer space as a realm free of conflict was one such measure to which the Commission could contribute, Makram said.  As long as some continued to see outer space as a potential realm for war, there would be an increasing risk of weaponization and conflict. Despite geopolitical and strategic tensions, major space‑faring nations and other space actors continued to find common ground, including through transparency and confidence‑building measures.

The Commission’s deliberations on such measures were an opportunity to review and help to put into practice the recommendations contained in the 2013 report of the Group of Governmental Experts, said the UNODA deputy chief, noting that delegates were off to the best start in many years, and expressing hope that the opportunity would be used wisely. [IDN-InDepthNews – 05 April 2018]

Photo credit: UN

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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